Central Community College-Columbus men's basketball started out the season 1-8, but recently rebounded to win two straight against Nebraska Wesleyan JV on Nov. 29 (91-84) and Doane JV on Dec. 3 (62-60).
The Raiders took on Highland Community College - Kansas Friday night in a game that tested the recent success of the team.
CCC nearly came back from 19 down in the second half but missed key free throws and scoring opportunities late and dropped a 73-71 final to the No. 3 team in Division II of the National Junior College Athletic Association.
"We're doing a little better job guarding defensively, said head coach Jerry Drymon during practice on Thursday. "That's made a difference. We've had so many injuries we've just kind of figured out some ways to survive with all the guys that we've had out.
"We're changing roles, and each time you change roles guys have to learn. Right now we have the same kind of group here. The guys that are out are going to be out for a little while now. They're kind of figuring out their roles. I think that will allow us to be more successful."
Sophomore central Latrell Talley returned from injury to play his first game on Nov. 27.
During the two victories, Talley has scored 20 points, recorded 22 rebounds and blocked seven shots.
"It helps us tremendously defensively because he blocks so many shots, he changes shots and he's our best rebounder," Drymon said. "That's the biggest thing. Offensively it gives us a low post scoring threat that we've been missing since he's been out."
Not everything is fine on CCC's roster. Key players Nathan Frost and Mayra Almayra will be out until January.
With only three games until the break, the Raiders are just trying to find a way to avoid too much damage until the team returns to full strength.
"We have a tough game Saturday, and then come back for their last home game against a team that's nationally ranked as well, so it doesn't get an easier," Drymond said. "If we get all the pieces back together we have a chance to be pretty solid, but right now we just have to find ways to survive."
Once the team returns in January there wont be much time to breathe as CCC jumps right into playing key opponents such as North Platte Community College.
The Knights are 6-1 thus far on the season.
Tre'vion Crawford has also been a key player for the Raiders, coming off the bench averaging a team-high 11.2 points per game.
Cooper Pratt has been one of the most efficient players for Central Community College. He has a field goal percentage of 60.7 percent. Pratt also leads the team in rebounds with 61.
Hakeem Odunsi has helped the Raiders set up scoring opportunities. He's dished out 36 assists to lead the team.
Padyn Borders has created problems for opposing teams. He's tallied nine steals to lead the Raiders.
December/January schedule for CCC:
Doane JV (W) 62-60
12/7: Highland Community College - Kansas @ Beatrice, NE
12/8: Doane JV @ Beatrice, NE
12/14: Des Moines Area Community College
1/11: at North Platte Community College
1/17: Midland JV
1/18: Quakerdale Prep Academy
1/19: Link Year Prep
1/23: Northeast Community College
1/26: vs. Next Level Prep @ Beatrice, NE
1/27: vs. Link Year Prep @ Beatrice, NE
1/29: at York JV
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com